Skip to main content

Full text of "An address to those who have been baptized in infancy, and who have not yet joined themselves to the church, by partaking of the Sacramental supper"

See other formats





















F£° N 

"In the City of Toronto, and within St. Andrew's 
Church there ; the sixth day of May, one thousand 
eight hundred and forty years ; the which day, 
the Presbytery of Toronto being met and consti- 
tuted" — Inter alia — 
" The Presbytery had some conference concerning the course to be 
pursued in reference to baptized youth — previous to which, Mr. George, 
on the call of The Moderator, engaged in prayer, for Divine light 
and direction. 

"The Presbytery enjoin Ministers to deal more pointedly and faith- 
fully with parents, to show them their responsibility — recommend 
sessions to meet specially for prayer on behalf of the youth of their 
flocks — and also, appoint Mr. George to prepare a draft of an address 
to baptized youth, by next meeting of Presbytery." 

"In the City of Toronto, and within St. Andrew's 

Church there ; the fourth day of October, one 

thousand eight hundred and forty years ; the which 

day, the Presbytery of Toronto being met and 

constituted" — Inter alia — 

11 Mr. George produced a draft of an address to baptized youth, as 

formerly appointed by the Presbytery, and the same having been read 

and duly considered, the Presbytery agreed to adopt the same, and 

directed it to be printed, and circulated in the several congregations." 

Extracted from the Records of the Presbytery of Toronto, by 


Pesb'y. Clerk. 

Digitized by the Internet Archive 

in 2012 with funding from 

Queen's University - University of Toronto Libraries 


After careful inquiry, it has been ascertained, that there 
are many within the bounds of this Presbytery, and in 
nominal connexion with us, who, although baptized into 
the fellowship of the Church in infancy, have now reached 
the years of discretion, yet manifest no indication of ful- 
filling their baptismal relationship. This is to us, matter 
of painful consideration ; and to those who are in this con- 
dition, we wish at present specially to address ourselves.* 
In early life you were, dear friends, by your parents 
dedicated to the Lord. If you admit — which we hope you 
do — the validity of infant baptism, then you must know, 
that by this rite you were placed within the pale of the 
visible church, and thus entitled to many benefits, not the 
least valuable of which are, the prayers and watchful care 
of the Ministers of Christ. Something more, however, 
must be done, than merely to have a name in the church, 
before you can be regarded as entitled to all the privileges 
of the household of God, or before we can look upon you 
as christians, in the full sense of that important term. For 
although infant baptism, or infant dedication, is a doctrine 
clearly taught in the word of God, and is full of comfort to 
believing parents, as it secures for their offspring many 
advantages — it is nevertheless plain, that Us full and efficient 
benefits to children, can only be expected, when it is followed 
up in due time, by a firm faith in the doctrines which it 
unfolds, and by a public and sincere attachment to Christ, 

* Although this tract is mainly intended for a particular class of persons, yet, with th« 
divine blessing, it may be read with advantage by all into whose hands it may come ; and the 
careful perusal of it is earnestly recommended lo those who have not made a profession of 
religion, Whether they have been baptised in infancy or not. The truths it contains we believe 
are peculiarly suitable to the case of such. 

which it so distinctly pre-supposes. He that has been 
baptized in infancy, but who, on attaining the years of 
maturity, neglects to fulfil his baptismal relationship, and 
becomes a mere man of the world, is not the better, but 
the worse, for privileges which he treats with indifference, 
or means which he has never improved. "A price has 
been put into his hand to get wisdom," but he has " buried 
his talent in the earth." 

That the privilege to which we have referred, as well 
as other means of grace springing out of it, or closely 
connected with it, may prove truly beneficial, you must, 
dear friends, make a right use of these. But this cannot be 
done by you, till you close with the offers of mercy, embrace the 
Lord Jesus, and put on the badge of discipleship, by a public 
and sincere profession of your faith in him as your Redeemer. 
It is true, that in infancy you were dedicated to the Lord ; 
but the character you now bear, and the position you at 
present occupy, cannot but produce in us painful apprehen- 
sions, that you have virtually renounced your baptism, and 
cast in your lot with the men of the world. We are willing 
to make great allowance, for the unfavourable circum- 
stances in which numbers of you have been placed. We 
are aware that many of you have grown up to manhood 
in parts of the country that were long destitute of the 
ordinances of the gospel. Hence, not a few have had but 
little opportunity to attend on the public means of grace, — 
while the greater part of those with whom you spent your 
early days, were persons grossly ignorant of all religion. 
And alas, it may be that these disadvantages were not all: 
some of your parents may have been faithless to their 
solemn obligations. If there was no sanctuary at which 
you could attend, it may be there was also no family altar 
at which you were required to bow your knees ; and if 
you saw nothing of the Sabbath abroad, it is possible you 

saw as little of it at home. Under the parental roof there 
might be no pious example, and little christian instruction. 
It is fearful to think of parents dedicating their children to 
the Lord in baptism, and yet permitting them to grow up 
ignorant of God, and of the way of salvation through Jesus 
Christ. What must be that parent's account, at the tribu- 
nal of the Judge, who is thus faithless to his God, and cruel 
to his offspring 1 When parents neglect the spiritual inte- 
rests of their children, —especially where there is little out- 
door instruction, and where evil example is rife — that they 
should grow up without the fear of God, and become men 
and women of the world, is a result as little to be wondered 
at, as it is deeply to be deplored. 

But, whatever may have contributed to bring you into 
your present sad state of indifference to divine things, this 
cannot be witnessed by us, without deep sorrow and great 
fear, lest you should be hardened in your sins, and perish 
under the just wrath of the Almighty. It will not do to 
say that our fear is groundless. Many of you are now 
heads of families; and is it not true, that in your houses 
the pious christian will look in vain for the least trace of 
religion] Not a few of you, have entirely, or almost, 
turned your backs on the house of God — while with men of the 
world, you are seen to form the most intimate friendships ; 
and with them, and not unfrequently in their houses, you 
spend your sabbaths. With such men, you associate in all 
their pursuits and peculiar amusements, — engaging in these 
with a visible delight, which shews but too plainly, how 
deeply you sympathize in the views and feelings of those 
u who have no fear of God before their eyes." Answer to 
your own conscience, if these things be not so ; — and can 
we look upon all this, and not be alarmed and grieved 1 
We tell you that we are filled with sorrow and fear, on 
your account ; and you must hear us, for we speak to you 


under an awful sense of what we owe to our Divine Master 
and of what we owe to your immortal souls. 

But, before proceeding farther, we must be permitted 
to say a few words for ourselves. We know well, that 
nothing tends more to sink the character of Ministers, and 
neutralize their efforts to do good, than the supposition, 
that their zeal for the conversion of sinners, is a mere cloak 
to conceal some selfish end. When this is founded in fact, 
it is hardly possible to conceive of a more loathsome and 
more criminal species of hypocrisy. He that knew the 
hearts of all men, charged the Pharisees with this, as one of 
the sins which rendered them peculiarly guilty. Nor is 
there any doubt, but the same thing will be seen, wherever 
hypocrisy attempts to build up a party by the arts of prose- 
lytism. Without making any laboured defence for the 
purity of our motives, we may nevertheless be permitted 
to say, that the Ministers of our Church have little to dread 
from the charge of proselytism. We know well, that the 
mere fear of being suspected of a proselytizing spirit, has, 
in not a few instances, produced a very questionable reserve 
and delicacy, where wholesome appeals and pointed reproofs 
might have done good. Now while we loathe the arts of 
proselytism, we offer no apology for that sensitiveness 
which shrinks from duty because the wicked or the thought- 
less may misconstrue the motives from which we act. By 
God "actions are weighed''; and the day of judgment will 
make manifest what the motives were, from which men 
acted, when they professed to serve the Lord. He that 
believes these things, and sees sinners perishing around 
him, ought faithfully to warn, reprove, and instruct, let the 
judgment of men be what it may. Yet it is plain that if 
you shall deem our anxiety about you to spring from the 
mere wish that the number of our church members may be 
increased, or from any other worldly consideration, we shall 

address you in vain. For your own good, dismiss such a 
notion from your minds. Believe us when we say that, as 
rulers of the Church of God, nothing could fill us with more 
alarm than to see our communicant roll swelled by the 
names of those who have " the form of religion without its 
power." Such men are not better, but worse, for the 
profession they make; and we know, from bitter experience, 
that hypocrites and formalists enfeeble congregations — 
bring reproach on religion, and are the cause of much heavi- 
ness of heart to faithful ministers of Christ. 

Let it then be distinctly understood that our object is not 
to induce you, while strangers to the power of godliness, to 
make a profession of religion. But our object is, in the 
name of our Divine master and in a reliance on the aids of 
his Spirit, with all earnestness, to exhort and beseech you 
to attend to the interests of your immortal souls ; to close 
with Christ as your Saviour, and then publicly to profess 
his name. This is what we have in view. Well, let us 
implore you to listen with candour and individually to apply 
what we anxiously wish to bring home to your understand- 
ing and conscience. 

But possibly, dear friends, you are surprised at our mode 
of address, and ready to exclaim — why all this anxiety 
about us 1 We have not renounced our baptismal relation- 
ship ; we do not treat lightly what our parents did for us in 
infancy ; we believe the Bible, and hope to be saved. 
Admit that these are the sentiments of your hearts ; still 
you cannot suppose such professions will satisfy those who 
look at your character, and see the dangers to which you 
stand exposed. At present you are identified with the 
world that lieth in wickedness ; and what are fair profes- 
sions and good resolutions while you live in sin, and mani- 
fest not the least interest in spiritual things 1 " By their 


fruits," said the Saviour, " ye shall know them." But what 
fruits are you bringing forth, that can warrant us to draw 
any favourable inference regarding your future prospects ] 
Although we do not take upon us to say that none of those 
who have been baptised in infancy, and, having reached 
manhood, fail to make a profession of their faith, can be 
Christians ; still we cannot but entertain great fears that 
such as live out of the visible churchy when they may be con- 
nected with it, are really living " without God, and without 
hope in the world." If you are Christians, why act like 
men of the world and remain identified with them 1 Those 
who love Christ, and believe in him for salvation, will love 
his people, and will neither be ashamed nor afraid to con- 
fess his name. But you neither seem to love the people of 
God, nor do you make any public profession of attachment 
to Christ. Is it uncharitable then to suppose that you are 
not Christians, but are really living in sin and are exposed 
to all its dreadful consequences. 

To be a Christian, in the Bible sense of the phrase, is to 
be "a child of God," an "heir of glory," and "a joint-heir 
with Christ" of the inheritance which he has purchased for 
his people. Now many will readily admit that to this 
character they have no claim, who do not seem to perceive 
that the admission involves something very fearful. In the 
sight of God there are but two classes of men : those who 
are his friends, and those who are still his enemies. Such 
as have believed in Jesus are the friends of God, for Christ 
is our peace-maker. If you are united to Him by a living 
faith, then are you the children of God. But if not, God is 
your enemy ; for " ye are yet in your sins," and were you 
to die in this state you must perish eternally. God is mer- 
ciful : yes, this glorious truth is announced in every page 
of the Bible, and is dwelt upon by the inspired writers with 
an elevation of feeling, which shews that the contemplation 


of the divine mercy filled their bosoms with joy unspeak- 
able. But, mark it, the mercy of God in which they rejoice, 
and which they delight to celebrate, is the mercy of God in a 
Mediator. If you are trusting to the mercy of God apart 
from the atonement made by Christ, you are trusting to 
you know not what. The Bible utters not a word of hope 
to the guilty but through the Mediator. " Neither is there 
salvation in any other ; for there is none other name, under 
heaven, given among men, whereby we must be saved." 

We have said there are but two classes of men, those 
who are the friends of God and such as are his enemies. 
Now we beseech you to try to settle this question. To 
which class do you belong ] If you belong to the world 
you are yet in your sins, and, as sinners, are the enemies 
of God and exposed to his wrath. Possibly you are hurt 
at such a statement as this, and tell us that you are not 
enemies to God, nor do you wish to be classed with the 
world ; but you are not yet sufficiently good to come to the 
Saviour. Hence you must for some time, at least, remain 
as you now are. This notion, which we believe to be 
common, is not the less dangerous that it looks plausible. 
Do you mean that you are not to embrace Christ as your 
Saviour till you can come to him with a holy heart 1 While 
you hold this opinion you will never believe in him, or come 
to him. That holiness which is acceptable in the sight of 
God, and what else can avail you, never can be possessed 
till the soul has been united to the Saviour. To Him we 
are indebted for sanctification as well as justification. We 
can no more change our own hearts than we can atone for 
our sins. If the righteousness of Christ be that which jus- 
tifies us, it is his Spirit that sanctifies us ; and the Spirit, in 
all his sanctifying operations, is the gift of Christ. It is 
through him as Mediator that divine truth is communicated; 
and it is through Him, in the same character, that the 


Spirit comes and applies the truth to our minds. The Holy 
Spirit " takes of the things that are Christ's and shews them 
unto us;" and when the hard and stony heart is taken away 
these are the things which, under this divine agency, en- 
lighten the understanding, purify the conscience, and fit 
men for the service and enjoyment of God. Few errors 
can be more dangerous than the notion that we are not 
warranted to come to the Saviour till we possess a holiness 
that shall recommend us to the favour of God. This is 
really to trust to our own righteousness, which is as filthy 
rags. An interest in Jesus Christ is the sole ground on 
which sinners can trust for acceptance with God. And let 
it sink down into your minds, that till you believe in the 
Saviour you can no more possess true holiness than you 
can possess justifying righteousness. He is the true vine : 
the branches can bear no fruit except they be united to 
Him. Indeed, one great end for which Christ came into 
the world was to furnish sinners with a new heart, or, in 
other words, with true holiness. The scheme of redemp- 
tion is in the fullest sense a restorative scheme. Listen to 
his own declarations. " I came not to call the righteous, 
but sinners to repentance." " The whole have no need of 
a physician, but they that are sick." O, how precious and 
suitable is all this to such guilty, depraved, and helpless 
creatures as we are. In the same terms, all the invitations 
and promises of the gospel are announced. Men are viewed 
as guilty — but the gospel offers them pardon. They are 
found to be helpless and depraved — but the gospel furnishes 
them with strength, regeneration, and all the sanctifying 
graces. Hence the invitation is — come, and come just as 
you are. Do you feel that u you are poor, blind, and 
naked," to you, as such, the Saviour presents himself, with 
righteousness, and grace suitable to your wants. He coun- 
sels you to come to him, not if ye are rich, but to be made 


rich ; not if ye are clothed, but to be clothed. His language 
is, " Come unto me all ye that labour, and are heavy laden, 
and T will give you rest." No matter how great your guilt 
may be, " his blood cleanses from all sin;" and no matter 
how great your depravity is, his Spirit can take it all away 
and make you new creatures. 

You profess to feel your unworthiness, hence you say we 
cannot come to Christ as we now are. But we tell you, you 
do not feel your unworthiness as you ought, you do not see 
your dreadful depravity and helplessness ; else you would 
never attempt to work out a righteousness that shall recom- 
mend you to the divine favour. Oh, if you saw your utter 
helplessness aright, you would just cry out as he of old, "God 
be merciful to me a sinner," and cast yourselves upon the 
divine compassion, as displayed in the Mediator. Yet we 
believe there are some who, from mistaken views, partly of 
their own inability and partly of the freeness and fullness of 
the gospel, endeavour to obtain a righteousness which may at 
least in some measure recommend them to God. These per- 
sons "labour in vain, and spend their strength for nought;" 
yet they labour sincerely. It is at the same time plain that 
the greater part who profess a wish to have some righteousness 
before they come to Christ are not sincere, or at least are not 
at all influenced by the notion they profess to hold. Their 
plausible profession is, we fear, a mere apology for their indif- 
ference and aversion to the terms and call of the gospel. The 
truth is, such persons neither sincerely desire genuine holiness 
nor redemption through the blood of Christ. 

Do not too hastily condemn this as a false and uncharitable 
statement. You say that you desire to be better, or, in other 
words, to have a righteousness that may recommend you to 
God, before you can come to the Saviour. Well, let us ask 
what efforts are you making to secure what you regard as an 
important qualification. Do you spend much time in secret 


prayer? Do you read the scriptures daily, meditate much on 
divine things, converse as often as you can with pious persons, 
and attend regularly on the preaching of the word 1 You 
admit these to be very necessary duties. Nay, you will go 
farther, and admit that if these duties are neglected you never 
can have true holiness, nor can it ever be advanced in your 
souls. Yet, by the greater part of you, these duties are entirely 
neglected or but partially performed. You go to the house of 
God but seldom, scarcely ever read the Bible, shun all reli- 
gious conversation with pious men ; while your thoughts are 
solely taken up about the world, and it may be that some of 
you never bow your knees at a throne of grace. Let con- 
science speak. Is it not so 1 What then do you mean by 
saying that you desire to be more holy before coming to Christ. 
What ! desire this, and yet never make use of the means by 
which holiness is cultivated. Deceive not yourselves ; for we 
tell you plainly, in your present state you have not and cannot 
possess any true righteousness. Your own efforts never will 
produce this. Dear friends, take the Bible as your guide, and 
you will find there is but one way in the matter. Come, yes, 
come, poor and wretched as you are, and cast yourselves on 
the Saviour for " righteousness, sanctification, and complete 
redemption." This is what the word of God warrants and 
enjoins. Why then not instantly close with the offers of mercy 
made to you through the Lord Jesus. 

Some will admit the truth of this, and yet attempt to evade 
the force of the appeal by declaring that, dangerous as their 
condition is and helpless as they may be, still they think it 
better to remain as they are than make a profession of religion 
and act as many professing Christians do. There is assuredly 
much to be deplored in the conduct of godless professors. 
But because some men who call themselves Christians act 
wickedly, and if they repent not must perish, is that any reason 
why you should also go down to hell along with them. These 


men to whom you refer are hypocrites and formalists, not be- 
cause they are Christians, but just because they are not Chris- 
tians, To say that the religion of Jesus Christ ever made any 
one a hypocrite, is a statement which no man should utter who 
has any regard for the credit of his understanding. But do 
you really think that none perish but such as perish with a 
false profession of religion on their lips ? And will none stand 
on the left hand of the judge, but such as have abused the 
privileges of the church? Is sin committed under the cloak 
of a religious profession the only thing to be dreaded 1 Your 
sins may not be the same as the sins of such men. Admit that 
damning guilt lieth on their souls, is there none that cleaveth 
to you ? Shall they be driven out from the presence of the 
Lord, and shall you be admitted into heaven with all your un- 
pardoned sins upon you ? Have you not read, that " hypo- 
crites and unbelievers" perish together. The portion of the 
former is that of the latter. We have already hinted our sorrow 
at the conduct of godless professors of religion. You cannot 
think for a moment that we wish you to become like them. 
We tell them that a name to live is nothing ; yea, that their 
conduct is a reproach to the cross of Christ. But we must 
tell you also, that if you turn away from him who died on the 
cross, you must perish. To draw comfort for ourselves from 
looking at the peculiar heinousness of the sins of our neigh- 
bours, is a common and we fear in many cases a fatal delu- 
sion. God only can estimate the amount of guilt which 
attaches to any accountable creature. The question with you 
ought not to be, how much greater is the guilt of formal pro- 
fessors than ours? But, are we sinners, are our sins yet 
unpardoned 1 

We wish earnestly to awaken you to a solemn consideration 
of your case as sinners. We wish to lead you to see your 
need of a Saviour. We wish you to see that Jesus Christ, as 
offered in the gospel, is just the Saviour that you need ; and 


we wish you to ponder deeply that " those who believe in him 
shall be saved, but those who believe not shall be damned." 
To an earnest and instant consideration of these truths we ask 
you to give your attention. Oh, it would be of little conse- 
quence what we might induce you to do, or what changes we 
might produce in you, or what steps soever you might take, 
unless we can, through the aid of the Holy Spirit, arouse you 
to think as penitent believers ; yea, and with your whole heart, 
to embrace a crucified Redeemer. Stop short of this, and all 
your attainments will amount to nothing. Out of Christ there 
is no hope for the guilty. You acknowledge that you are 
guilty. Why then not embrace the blessed Saviour, and look 
to him as the Redeemer of your souls. 

Do not try to put us off, and deceive yourselves, by saying 
that you intend to do all that we wish; but the present, somehow, 
is not a convenient time for setting about it. And why not a 
convenient time ? It is the day of salvation. To-morrow or 
next week will not be more convenient ; and, alas, that future 
period on which you have fixed as the suitable time, may be to 
you not a day of salvation but the night of despair. Let us 
notice briefly some of the evils which may result from delay in 
this matter. 

Your attachment to men of the world will be powerfully 
strengthened by continuing in your present state. We are by 
nature social creatures, The qualities in others which interest 
us awaken our sympathies, and produce that attachment which 
is called friendship. This, when founded on virtuous princi- 
ples, is one main source of human happiness and a main cause 
of moral and intellectual improvement. But friendship with- 
out the fear of God is a source of unspeakable mischief. It is 
nevertheless plain, that while your feelings and sentiments are 
in accordance with the world, the men of the world will be 
your friends ; and who can tell the evils to which you may be 
liable from making friends of those who are enemies to God. 


It is not more fully illustrated by experience " that those who 
walk with wise men shall be wise/' than that those who make 
companions of the thoughtless and wicked shall become in the 
most emphatic sense fools. If you are attached to such per- 
sons, you will soon learn to respect their opinions and imitate 
their vices. For a time, if you have been well brought up, 
you may regard their open contempt for sacred things with 
dislike ; but if you hold close intercourse with them, this dislike 
will wear off, and in the end you may be seen taking your 
place beside them " in the chair of the scorner." If even the 
Christian, with his principles confirmed and his graces well 
matured, cannot hold close intercourse with the men of the 
world without feeling a deadening effect from their society, 
how perilous must such society be to the young, who are not 
established in the truth and whose minds are peculiarly sus- 
ceptible of the worst impressions from the example of others. 
Many, of whom the fairest hopes were once entertained, have 
been ruined by wicked companions. Beware, lest the same 
thing may happen to you. To shew the dangerous effects of 
the influence under which you now live, and which is every- 
day becoming stronger, let it be supposed that you feel some 
anxiety about your future well-being, and perceive, that in 
order to be safe, you must come out from the world and take 
your place with the people of (Jod. Would you not feel it a 
difficult matter even now to break with your worldly associates, 
and to bear the contumely with which they would treat you, 
should you manifest sincere piety ? Of this there cannot be 
a doubt. Long established friendships are not dissolved with- 
out pain, and he that can calmly bear the reproach of those 
whom he has long esteemed, must be supported by the highest 
and the purest motives. Yet be assured, if you ever become 
truly pious, your wicked companions must be forsaken, and 
their reproach must be endured. But is it not clear that, just 
the longer you stand connected as you now are with such 


persons, the difficulties to which we have adverted will not be 
lessened but greatly increased. If you find it hard now to step 
boldly forth from the world, and declare " that whatever others 
may do, as for us, we are determined to serve the Lord." 
Think not that this can be more easily done at some future 
period. Every day that you continue in your present state, 
the influence of wicked companions will be more felt and their 
scorn more dreaded by you. Are you then resolved to live 
with them, and to take your portion with them in eternity ? 
No. You tremble at the thought. You know that they are 
not the friends of God, and whatever you think of them you 
cannot think that they possess the qualities which fit them for 
the presence of God in heaven. 

Carefully avoiding all reckless denunciations, we must never- 
theless say, that whatever mere men of the world may possess 
of intelligence or the agreeable embellishments of life, they are 
neither safe nor useful companions to those who desire the 
friendship of God. But to sacrifice his friendship for the 
friendship of our fellow mortals is not only folly but madness. 
Under the most favourable circumstances worldly friendships 
have but comparatively little to bestow. But there are times, 
when help is most needed, that no succours can be obtained 
from this quarter. On the bed of sickness or of death, are the 
wicked companions with whom you now associate, and who 
may have led you into criminal indulgences, the persons you 
would wish to have around you 1 No. Nor are they the per- 
sons who, in the hour of deep distress, possess the will or the 
means to minister to your comfort. They will pay you a cold 
and formal visit and then forsake you ; and, as they retire, you 
will in the bitterness of your heart be compelled to exclaim, 
" miserable comforters are these." The friendship of the world 
is death. Without God it can be nothing else ; and yet pos- 
sibly it is this which mainly keeps you back from embracing 
the gospel of Christ. 


And is there no friendship to be found among the people of 
God ? When a man abandons his worldly companions, must 
all his social affections perish 1 Those who have never studied 
the grand principles of the Christian religion, and never min- 
gled with its pure-minded and warm-hearted believers, may 
readily say so. But he that knows what religion is, and has 
seen its effect on the human heart, knows well that among the 
followers of the Saviour friendship,: spring/ from far higher 
motives, and produces incomparably better fruits than the 
mere friendship of the world. Hence, when we ask you to 
abandon your wicked associates, rather than perish with them, 
if we can invite you to connect yourselves with those whose 
hearts are purified and warmed by the love of the Saviour, 
then we can assure you of such tender affection and benevo- 
lent service as you have never experienced in )our intimacy 
with the world. 

We have dwelt the longer on this topic from a conviction, 
that multitudes are kept from attending- seriously to religion 
by the influence exercised over them by their godless neigh- 
bours and friends. Nor is it difficult to see, that in a country 
in which so many are living without any profession of Chris- 
tianity, the children of even pious parents are exposed to great 
danger. "Evil communications corrupt good manners." In- 
deed we tremble for the consequences, when we think that 
many of our dear young friends are engaged daily in the vari- 
ous duties of life, and mingle in social intercourse with the 
ignorant, the profane, and such as avow infidel opinions. 

But if there are dangers to be apprehended from without, 
there is an enemy at work within the bosom not less to be 
dreaded. You admit that you are depraved creatures ; but 
possibly you have not adverted to the fact, that while you con- 
tinue in your present state this depravity is every hour acquir- 
ing additional strength, and if it is not checked by divine grace 
it will expand with the growth of all your powers. Hence 


pride, vanity, avarice, malice, and licentiousness, with other 
evil passions, acquire in course of time a fearful dominion over 
the heart. Till we come to God by faith and repentance, 
every depraved passion, or those at least to which we are more 
especially liable, will continue to increase. The connection 
betwixt cause and effect is in nothing more certain than in this. 
While we continue strangers to God, neglect the means of 
grace, and live in the practice of sin, what else indeed can be 
expected but the complete enslavement of the soul by irregular 
appetites and criminal passions. This is the reign — the tyranny 
of sin by which the understanding is darkened, the conscience 
seared, and the heart made like to the nether mill-stone. 
And, oh ! what are the means of grace to such a heart. 
There is a point, and God only knows but some of you may 
have reached it, where divine truth seems to lose all its force 
on the soul. God's judgments no longer alarm, and his mer- 
cies no more allure such a soul. " The strong man keeps the 
house," and every holy thing is excluded. 

It is quite possible that you may feel and in some measure 
deplore the dominion of sin ; but it may be you fancy that the 
evil passions and lusts which now torment you, hold you in 
bondage, and fill you with shame and remorse, will after a time 
quit the soul and leave you at full liberty to think of heavenly 
things and attend to religious duties. Vain supposition this. 
Divine truth brought home to the conscience by the Holy 
Spirit can alone free the soul from the dominion of sin. And 
be not deceived with partial and temporary changes, You 
may give up particular sins, or the sins peculiar to certain 
periods of life may be exchanged for others, yet in all this there 
is no true repentance. You may be weary, not of sin, but of 
its bitter fruits. The Israelites were weary of their idols, and 
ashamed of the fruits of their doings, yet they only turned from 
one idol to another — not to the Lord. Such changes give no 
ground to suppose that the heart is changed, for all the while 


depravity in one form or other may be deepening and extend- 
ing its influence over every power of the mind. Yes, and thus 
it will be, until as broken-hearted penitents you come to the 
physician of souls, who alone can deliver you from all your 
spiritual maladies. Why not instantly come to him. You 
know that your sins are making you wretched ; you believe 
that the suffering of sin in the present life is but a foretaste of 
the everlasting shame and misery that await the wicked. The 
means which you may employ to better your heart will all end 
in disappointment while you remain away from him, whose grace 
can alone make means efficacious. Living as you now are, 
sabbaths are not blessed to you— -the Bible is not blessed to 
you. The benefits of the table of the Lord are not realized by 
you. The society of godly persons is not blessed to you. 
While the depravity of your own heart is every day increasing, 
and ever producing much real suffering, for which the pleasure 
of sin is but a poor compensation, 

But possibly you think that, small as the portion of earthly 
happiness is which you now possess, should you make a sin- 
cere profession of religion, you must part even with that. 
Some good men, we confess, have spoken on this matter in 
terms which are apt to lead to the notion that a true Christian 
can derive no enjoyment from the things of the present life, 
nor ought he to seek it even in the lowest degree. It cannot 
be too distinctly understood, that all earthly pleasures which 
are sinful must be given up by the followers of Christ. But is 
this a sacrifice 1 What is sacrificed 1 Things which are unsa- 
tisfying — things degrading to a rational creature, and destruc- 
tive, when possessed, of his true peace of mind and future pros- 
pects. It is a gross perversion of language to call such things 
by the name of pleasure. The pleasures of sin are but for a 
season. The soul requires enjoyments that shall be lasting. 
The pleasures of sin only gratify our senses, or minister to our 
malignant passions. He that has most of this soon finds that 


he has obtained not a large portion of happiness, but much real 
misery. We fearlessly affirm that religion strips no man of 
any true enjoyment. Or if our divine master at times requires 
us to make real sacrifices, to forsake all for him, he will not 
under these trials leave us comfortless. Hence men " have 
taken joyfully the spoiling of their goods." They knew their 
Lord was near them, and he gave them peace and " joy which 
the world could not give nor take away ;" and they knew they 
had an inheritance above, on which they were soon to enter. 
But putting times of persecution out of view, we ask — Did reli- 
gion ever render men less happy as parents, as children, or 
neighbours? Does it unfit any man for tasting intellectual 
enjoyments, or for partaking of the innocent gratifications of 
life. When godliness comes into a house, and when the family 
altar is set up, and parents and children are seen going on 
hand in hand in the divine, life, does all happiness flee away 
from that house ? Believe it, dear friends, that " godliness has 
the promise of the life that now is as well as of that which is 
to come." The fear of the Lord is not more truly the begin* 
ning of wisdom than of genuine happiness. The reason of this 
is plain enough : all things are to us just what God's blessing 
makes them. Alas ! without his blessing, we will find that the 
choicest of earthly good things will prove but like "grapes of 
Sodom and apples of Gomormh !" If professors of religion are 
unhappy, it is sin, not religion that makes them so. He that 
leaves the world and turns to God must part with much — with 
his shame, weakness, and sin ; but not with what contributes 
essentially to his happiness. If you are continuing in sin in 
order that you may taste happiness, you are labouring under 
the greatest possible delusion. You are " sowing the wind, 
and will reap the whirlwind." Happy without the friendship 
of God ! happy with Almighty God as your enemy ! Prepos- 
terous folly. Let all know this, that "the wages of sin is 
death," and that true happiness can only be found in the favour 


of God. While you continue in sin "you are destroying your 
own mercies," and IC treasuring up wrath against the day of 

There is another matter on which it is needful that we 
should warn you. Some of you are heads of families. You 
all admit the force of example. Now think of the example 
which you are setting before your children, while you continue 
to live as mere men of the world. We shall suppose you to 
give your dear little ones some religious instruction, and wish 
them, feebly wish them, to become Christians. But can you 
really expect this wish to be realized, or the instructions which 
they receive, either from yourselves or sabbath-school teachers, 
to take effect on their minds. If even apparent inconsistency 
weakens the force of our wisest counsels, glaring inconsistency 
must render abortive the best things we can utter in words. 
When parents manifest this, their children cannot but notice it ; 
and it must tend either to lower the character of parents in 
their estimation (a thing very much to be dreaded), or render 
divine truth of no value in their eyes. Your example is con- 
stantly before them, and this they will naturally imitate. But 
whatever your words are. you cannot but perceive that your 
example is adverse to religion. Your children will assuredly 
think, that if religion were all-important their parents would 
make a profession of it, and take their place among the people 
of God in the visible church. But seeing you have not done 
this, the inference they will naturally draw is, that although you 
may occasionally in a few formal words recommend religion 
to their attention, yet, after all, it is really but of very little 
consequence. Hence, what is treated by you with indifference 
may by them be treated with fixed aversion and open con- 
tempt. It were not well at present to dwell on this ; yet it 
cannot but produce painful emotions to think how large a por- 
tion of the avowed infidelity of the times may fairly be traced 
to those houses in which there was just as much of the form of 


religion as rendered it contemptible in the eyes of the young" 
and the thoughtless. Would you then, dear friends, have your 
children to grow up in the fear of God, oh, set His fear before 
them in the living testimony of a pious example. You are 
very anxious that your children should be happy. This is 
natural and laudable ; but we have already shown that true 
happiness cannot be possessed without holiness. You may 
send then* to those places where religious instruction may be 
obtained. This is also right. But when they return to their 
homes and find that father never bows his knees at a throne 
of grace, and mother has no pious instructions to communi- 
cate — see no sabbath under the parental roof-— for nothing is 
heard it may be on that day, by your fireside, but frivolous and 
worldly conversation — what can you expect, but that they shall 
grow up utterly regardless of their God and their eternal inte- 
rests. You may speak to your children with the wisdom and 
zeal of apostles ; but while you act as mere men of the world 
you are really standing betwixt them and heaven, and your 
example is pointing them to the broad way that leads to de- 
struction. No one who is not anxious about his own salvation 
will ever take a deep interest in the salvation of others. Yet, 
if the views we have stated are correct, ought you not as 
parents, looking at the deplorable influence of a godless ex- 
ample on your children, and looking at the relation in which 
you stand to them, to find in this motives to a life of piety ? 
Alas ! your indifference to divine things may be the means of 
ruining the souls of some that are very dear to you. 

We have more than slight grounds lor suspecting that some 
of those whom we wish to address scarcely employ a serious 
thought on religion. " The god of this world hath blinded 
their minds." " What shall we eat, and what shall we drink, 
and wherewithal shall we be clothed," are the questions that 
chiefly if not wholly engage, their attention. Those who have 
reached this state of moral degradation are not likely to derive 


much benefit from the arguments and appeals which may be 
brought before them. But the greater part of yon we hope 
are not in this lamentable condition. Your understanding is 
not wholly darkened, and the voice of conscience is yet heard 
if not obeyed. You readily admit that your soul is cf more value 
than the whole world. You also acknowledge your guilt and 
depravity, and profess to believe that without pardon and re- 
generation you cannot obtain either a title or a fitness for 
heaven. You also know that Christ is the only Saviour, and 
that without faith in him and repentance unto life you cannot 
be saved. O that these admissions, these glorious truths, were 
embraced by you as grounds and elements of a living faith. 
For in the gospel economy ail things are ready, and you are 
invited, poor and guilty as you are, to come and partake of the 
rich provision. Why then delay in a matter of such vast im- 

Is the old apology again to be advanced : the present is not 
a suitable time for attending to the business of your salvation. 
Other things now engage your attention, and you cannot find 
leisure to enter upon the subject of religion. But then you re- 
solve that you, shall do so at some future time. This resolution is 
excellent ; yes, an excellent piece of deception to most of 
those who cling to it. It is indeed a mere excuse, bv which 
you attempt to stifle conscience, and shut the mouths of those 
who urge on you the necessity of giving instant heed "to the 
things that belong to your peace, ere they be for ever hid from 
your eyes." Verily, there is reason to fear that there are many 
this day in hell who went down to that place of torment with 
this resolution, with " this lie in their right hand." 

Many who resolve to attend to religion at some future time, 
have obviously no well-defined notion when the more conve- 
nient season shall be. There are others, however, who fix on 
the evening of life as the suitable period. They found the gay 
pursuits of youth incompatible with the solemn inquiry, t( what 


must we do to be saved ;" and now they find the engrossing 
cares of middle life as little favourable for taking up and seri- 
ously considering this momentous question. But then they are 
looking forward to old age as a season that will afford all the 
mental repose and freedom from engrossing cares which they 
think, and not without reason, to be needful on entering 
seriously on the work of salvation. So it comes to this ; that 
when you shall have nothing else to do, or rather when you 
can no longer serve the world, the devil, and the flesh, you 
shall then give some little attention to the service of God. Ac- 
cording to this notion, the chief end of man is to live to himself 
as long as he possibly can, and as little as may be to his 
Creator. Can this really be the chief end of a rational and 
an immortal creature ? Man was made " to glorify God and 
to enjoy him." But he who wishes to live without God as long 
as he can obtain gratification for his sensual appetites, is only 
less criminal than the man who denies the divine existence. 
Nor can we allow that such a man has any sincere wish 
either to serve God, or to enjoy him in a future life. It is not 
denied, that, when the worldling finds that he must soon leave 
this earth, he would rather go to heaven than to hell. But 
heaven is not desired by him for that which makes it truly a 
glorious heaven — the love and service of God. If you reply, 
that you at least desire to enter heaven from pure motives, — 
then, we ask, why are you not earnestly seeking after those 
graces which will fit you for its service and its joys? Re- 
member that as the title to eternal felicity is acquired in time, 
so the grace which fits us for that felicity must be acquired and 
cultivated in the church on earth. 

What ! shall youth and manhood be spent in cultivating all 
the depraved passions, which fit the soul for hell and make 
men like devils ; while the dregs of life, a small portion of old 
age, shall only be set apart to prepare for heaven, and to glo- 
rify God in the world. Do you realize God as your Creator, 


Preserver, and Redeemer \ and yet feel no obligation to con- 
secrate to Him the best of your days 1 The Jews were re- 
quired to present the first fruits to God ; and does he not still 
require from all the first fruits of those powers and talents 
which he has conferred upon them? Depend upon it there is 
no proper sense of duty to God, no love nor gratitude to our 
blessed Saviour, if we do not willingly consecrate to him the 
best of our days. But what shall be said of those who are 
resolved to spend youth and manhood in the service of hell ; 
and yet draw consolation from the resolution, that they shall 
give to heaven a few months or years of decrepid old age. 
Than such resolution, nothing can more clearly evidence a 
total want of love to God. It proves distinctly a decided aver- 
sion to his service, and the most criminal attachment to the 
world. These men do in their hearts, let them profess what 
they may in words, wish to pluck forbidden fruit till the head 
is palsied ; and then they hope, strange hope, that some minis- 
ter of mercy will lay before them fruit from the tree of life, that 
they may eat and live for ever. 

Far be it from us to limit the divine compassion, or the sove- 
reign power of God. He may shew the richness of his grace 
by saving at the eleventh hour. But how many who have had 
the offers of mercy pressed upon them through life, yet hove 
treated these offers with neglect, and have lived in rebellion 
against God, cherishing all the while the resolution, that at last 
they would snatch a fragment of time and in that make their 
peace with the Most High, have been enabled to carry this 
resolution into effect, can only be known to Him that 
knoweth all things. But to us the future prospects of such 
men seem fearfully dark. In reference to the most favour- 
able cases, we can just say that we do not despair. While 
in regard to the greater part who have cherished this 
heaven-insulting delusion, we dare not entertain the least 
hope. God cannot be deceived and he will not be mocked, 


and those who mock him in this way may be given up to 
judicial blindness — to believe a lie, and at last to wonder 
and perish. 

But why look to old age as the best time for the act of 
faith, the work of repentance, and as the period most suitable 
for bringing forth fruits unto holiness. Many of you whom 
we address will never see -old age. Does death only smite 
down the old? Are there not some of those with whom 
you started in life who are now mouldering in the dust] 
They have died young ; and are you less liable to death 
than they were. Ah, dear friends, while you may be look- 
ing forward to threescore and ten, the decree may have 
gone forth, " Cut them down, why cumber they the 
ground ;" and ere you have reached the meridian of life, 
you may be suddenly called to meet God as your judge I 
Work while it is day, " for the night cometh, in which no 
man can work." But suppose you should reach old age, 
have you never seriously thought how unfit a season that 
generally is for beginning the great work to which all your 
time and powers ought to have been devoted. Some old 
men retain all their faculties to the last. Yet the greater 
part who reach an advanced period of life, have to deplore 
the decay of all the natural powers, and are frequently 
overwhelmed by a load of infirmities. " The keepers of 
the house tremble ; those that look out at the windows are 
darkened ; the daughters of music are brought low ; desire 
fails ; and the grasshopper is a burden." Have you never 
seen this striking picture realized? And yet you propose, 
amidst these decays of nature and the peculiar infirmities 
of old age, for the first time seriously to attend to the inte- 
rests of your soul. What folly is this ! the great work is 
not to be commenced till possibly you are incapable of 
attending on public ordinances, unable to search the scrip- 
tures, and, it may be, utterly unfit to converse advantage- 
ously with pious Christians. With all the senses half shut 
up — the mind so weak as to be exhausted by the least 
effort — you nevertheless propose to investigate the grounds 
of faith and hope, to enter on a thorough self-examination, 
and in your life to furnish evidence of your regeneration, 
and to glorify God by your good works. Is tins rational ? 
Does the word of God in the slightest degree warrant this 
presumption 1 In a word, are you not, till that which has 


been emphatically called second childhood shall come upon 
you, to put the great questions, what are you? Whither 
are you going when you leave this world 1 and how are 
you to enter the next] Suppose a godless aged man to 
turn his mind sincerely to divine tilings ; think, we beseech 
you, of the disadvantage- under which he labours. The 
Bible is to him a strange book. He has not its treasures 
laid up in the memory; ha knows not where to find its 
consoling promises; and he sees not the connection ol these 
with that atoning sacrifice that gives them all their efficacy. 
The very language of the Bible is strange to him, for he 
has not learned the language of Canaan in his youth. 
Besides nature is soon exhausted. He wearies in a few 
minutes, and closes the book with indifference. In prayer 
the same lamentable symptoms of spiritual stupidity and 
langour are apparent I! some pious Christian engages in 
this duty, the object for whom he pleads is seen gazing 
vacantly around or dozing half asleep. Sad spectacle this; 
who can behold it Without horror, and the most fearful 
apprehensions lest the spirit of God may have been utterly 
and for ever grieved away. Oh ! there is a calmness some- 
times manifested by godless persons at the close of life, as 
much to be dreaded as if the language of despair were 
heard from their lips. 

Not unlike the delusion which we have been attempting 
to expose, is that of trusting to a death-bed repentance. 
The hour of death is regarded by many as the most suitable 
time for embracing the offers of mercy, and obtaining a 
meetness for the heavenly inheritance. Few misconcep- 
tions are greater, and none ought to be more dreaded than 
this. Death may come suddenly, you may not have an 
hour to prepare to meet your God. While you are saying 
soul, eat, drink, and be merry, He that reigns over all may 
be saying " Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required 
of thee." To-day you may be in health, vainly anticipat- 
ing a long life ;• and to-morrow you may be in eternity. 
Think, dear friends, what a fearful thing it must be to have 
all your hopes blasted in a moment ; and to be ushered, 
with all your sins upon you, into the presence of that God 
who cannot look upon sin but with abhorrence. Against 
sudden death you have no security. 


But admit that you may have some time granted you on 
your death-bed for reflection, and what you call prepara- 
tion, have you seriously considered how unfit the closing 
scene commonly is for sober inquiry. You have no doubt 
seen others die. You have not forgot their paroxysms of 
pain, the anxious eye looking in vain for help, and the 
heart-rending groans of distress. " At evening you heard 
them say, Would to God it were morning; and at morning, 
Would to God it were evening" For they were "filled 
with tossings to and fro," and could find no rest. While 
the sight of all they were about to leave, and the awful 
realities of the eternal world breaking in on the eye of the 
troubled spirit, filled them with strange alarms, at once 
perplexing reason and arousing conscience. O, did you then 
think that the hour of death was the most suitable time to 
begin the great business of religion? Did you think it the best 
time for the dying man to commence to learn literally the first 
principles of godliness, and to hegin self-examination and other 
highly important duties] No, dear friends, you did not. But 
if you reflect aright on the matter, you saw that what the dying 
man needed was strong faith, joy in the Holy Ghost, and a 
clear sense of his Redeemer's presence. But what grounds 
has he to expect all this at last who has lived a life of sin, with 
the resolution that at death — yes, then, but not till then, he 
would begin to inquire after the Lord and do His will 1 

No one can tell what it is to die. But some who have been 
at the gates of death, and have been brought back as it were 
to the land of the living, have declared, " that to look at death 
at a distance, and to behold it just at hand, is as different as it 
is to look at the picture of a lion and to meet that animal in his 
native desert." Death is truly the king of terrors to all who 
are not supported by a well grounded hope in the atoning 
blood of Christ You may in the days of youth and health be 
so engrossed with the business and amusements of life thdt 
thoughts of death shall but seldom be permitted to occupy your 
attention, while false hopes and delusive conceptions of the 
mercy of God may yield a partial confidence to some in con- 
templating their latter end. But if men see things aright — see 
God as infinitely holy and just, and behold sin as that which is 
utterly irreconcilable with the divine perfections and moral 
government of God — they will see that nothing but a firm faith 
in the righteousness of Christ can take the sting out of death. 


Without this death must he truly dreadful ; for as the tree falls 
so must it lie, and he that dies out of covenant with God, is 
lost for ever. 

There is not one of you who would not readily own that an 
interest in the friendship of God would be unspeakably precious 
at death. Why not seek that now ? Is not an interest in 
God's friendship invaluable in life ? It is guilt, obviously, that 
makes death terrible ; and can that which renders you not 
only unhappy in life, but may make you miserable " when 
heart and flesh faint and fail," he too soon removed ? O ! is 
it not madness for you thus to live in sin, every hour exposed 
to eternal ruin, with nothing to support you but the dreadful 
possibility — that at the last hour you may repent and be par- 

But we must draw our little tract to a close ; yet we cannot 
do this without telling you, in the most explicit terms, that if 
you perish, you perish with the rich provision of the gospel 
presented before you, and urged on your acceptance. All 
things are ready. The garment of righteousness is ready, and 
the gospel feast is prepared, and God hath sent forth his ser- 
vants to invite you to come in ; and, O, do not delay. Do not 
trust to a death-bed repentance. You may die suddenly, or 
your mind may be convulsed by frenzy or clouded with stupor; 
or you may be given up to sore judicial blindness, and left to 
die *' as a fool dieth." Disregard the admonitions and warn- 
ings we have uttered, neglect the offers of mercy, and spend 
your days in the service of sin, all the while entertaining the 
hope that at the hour of death you may repent and be saved ; 
and when the hour of death comes, may not the Lord say — 
•' Because I have called and ye refused. I have stretched out 
my hand but ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would 
none of my reproof, I also Will laugh at your calamity, I will 
mock when your fear cometh. When your fear cometh as 
desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind, when 
distress and anguish cometh upon you." If God magnifies his 
mercy in the pardon of penitent believers, let it not be forgotten 
that he will manifest his justice in the condemnation of the 
impenitent. Prepare for death ; prepare to meet your God in 
the days of health, when you have all the means of grace, and 
may employ these to most advantage. At the hour of death 
you may have much to regret ; but at that hour it will not be 
matter of regret, but oi' inexpressible joy, that for many years 


you could read clearly your title to the heavenly inheritance — 
that for mnny years you have se:ved God faithfully, done good 
to the souls of others, and with your last breath can testify to 
the preciousness of religion. But if from a death-bed you 
have to look back on an ill-spent life, what remorse must that 
produce; and as you look forward fears may arise in your 
mind, which no words can utter, and which the kindness of all 
your earthly friends cannot allay. What then meaneth your 
indifference to divine things now, and why delay one day the 
great work of your salvation ? " Why halt ye betwixt two 
opinions /" " Choose ye this day whom ye will serve :" " for 
you cannot serve God and mammon." Choose God then as 
your God in Christ, and it shall be well with you in life, at 
death, and through eternity. 

As ministers of the Lord Jesus Christ, we implore you to 
ponder seriously the sentiments we have uttered. Lay not 
this little tract aside, dear friend , before you ask the question, 
Why am I not a Christian; and on your knees at a throne of 
grace implore the great God our Saviour to have mercy on 
you, and through the graces of his Spirit to give you a name 
and a place among his people. So that when he comes to 
judge the world, you may be one of those to whom he shall 
say " Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom 
prepared for you. 

In fine we entreat you, as you value your immortal souls, 
to come to the Saviour. We beseech you, by the recol- 
lection of what your parents did for you, and which you 
would tremble to disavow; yes, and by the tears and the 
prayers which some of these parents may have poured 
forth while they sought your salvation, we beseech you to 
come to the Saviour. By the joys of angels and of the 
spirits of the just made perfect, we entreat you to come, 
that there may be joy in heaven on your account. By the 
throne of judgment and all the vast realities of a future 
world, we beseech you to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, 
that you may be saved. The Spirit and the bride say 
come. And let him that heareth say come. And let him 
that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take of 
the water of life freely.